First off, this is not a review, but rather a first impression of this gear. I have used the backpack, hydration pack, and rain cover on only a couple overnight trips and I do not feel that is enough time with these products for a full in depth review. It is however enough hands on experience to give some first impressions.
OSPREY AETHER 60
Unlike a lot of the other gear I have purchased, I did very little prior research before buying this pack. That is not to say I bought it blindly. I looked at and tried on plenty of other backpacks. But after carefully examining the details, and features, I felt the the Osprey Aether was the best choice, and so far I have been very happy with it. There are some specific things that stand out to me that I will highlight bellow.
The first thing I always look for in a good backpack is the stitching. There are areas in every pack that receive a lot of stress and the stitching needs to be strong enough to last repeated use. The Aether passes this test very well. There is solid and precise stitching on this pack, and I have not come across any area that concerns me in terms of its stitching.
I like the fact that the water bladder could be added externally to this backpack, without the need of having to completely unload your pack. The area to slide in the bladder is very assessable with a couple clips to secure the water. However, with a fully loaded pack it can be tricky to slide in a full 3 litter bladder in. I have found laying the pack on the side helps in the process, but you still have to use a bit of force.
This is something I did not think much of when I bought the pack, but since then have really grown to appreciate. The ability to strap your hiking poles on to the side of your pack within a few seconds while walking is great. Osprey designed this well and the poles stay secure, out of your way, but still accessible for when you need them.
I have noticed that the right shoulder strap has started to fray a little. I am surprised since I have only used the pack for about four trips. The fact that it was only on the right strap makes me suspect that something was rubbing against it on my last trip. But I have noticed slight fraying on some of the other straps as well. I will be keeping a close eye on it and see how it holds up until the end of the year.
As mentioned I have used the Osprey pack on several trips and I have been happy with how well it has worked. It fits well to my back and with adjusting the straps I have always been able to reposition the weight to where I like it.
That all being said I do wish that I had purchased the 70 version rather than the 60. Not that I have had any issues with lack of room yet, but I can see that in the future I might have to get creative to fit everything for longer trips. This pack should last for many years, and I am looking forward to the many adventures I will take with it.
Osprey 3 Liter Reservoir
In full disclosure, I have never used a hydration pack before so I was unsure if it would be worth the investment. But after using it on a couple trips, I have to say that they are totally worth it. I purchased the Osprey Hydration pack since I had the Osprey pack, but also because it seemed the sturdiest with some of the best features.
It is important do a leak test before placing into your pack. Sometimes the lid is not on all the way, or threaded properly and when you put the bladder in your pack and it starts to leak. By simply tipping the full bladder upside down to make sure that the lid is sealed, you can save yourself from a wet backpack.
I cannot imagine using a hydration pack without the magnetic clip that comes with this one. It puts the hose nozzle exactly where it needs to be and keeps it there. Other hydration packs may have other forms of securing the hose, but the magnet is the best way to do it.
Another trick I have discovered with water bladder is to store it in the freezer. After a trip I drain residual water the best I can, making sure the hose is clear. Since there is always a little water left, I place the bladder in the freezer. This helps prevent the bladder getting stale, and reduces the need for cleaning tablets.
Sea to Summit Cordura Pack Cover
I have not had the opportunity yet to truly test this in a heavy rain storm. (However I am sure that during our Iceland trip that we have planned in August, it will get its fair amount of use.) When I bought this I had been debating between this cover and the cheaper REI branded rain cover. In the end I decided on this one due to how compressed and light the cover was.
Honestly I will have to test this out in real conditions to really know the usefulness of this feature. Seems like a good idea, but unsure until tested.
The cover fits over my pack tightly. Perhaps too tight. When my pack is fully loaded with items attached to the outside I worry about it still covering everything.
It may seem like a minor thing but having a compressed stuff stack was a big selling point for me. In addition to its small size, the stuff sack remains attached when you take it out so that it does not get lost.
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